Juvenile law is an area of criminal law that is applicable to persons not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts. This is a very complex area of the law with a multitude of considerations. Below are ten general things that you should know about juvenile law.
If you are the parent or guardian of a juvenile that needs legal representation, Nrupra Patel is here to help. An experienced criminal attorney and former juvenile prosecutor, she may be able to help in navigating this complex and confusing area of law.
Ten Things You Should Know About Juvenile Law
- Juveniles may be charged as a minor if the alleged offense occurred when they were under 18 years of age. A few years ago, Illinois law changed. The new law provides that a person aged 17 no longer gets charged as an adult if facing a felony. There are exceptions to this law, as it does not apply to certain serious violent felonies or traffic offenses. Prosecutors may also file a motion to transfer the juvenile to adult court, but the case will begin as a juvenile matter.
- Juveniles must be represented by an attorney. If the juvenile cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender to represent him or her.
- Court supervision is allowed for most offenses, including some felonies. This is a bit different from adult rules regarding court supervision. As an example, an adult charged with felony theft will not receive court supervision; however, a juvenile may be able to receive supervision for those same offenses.
- Juveniles have Miranda Rights. The fact that a juvenile is a minor does not waive any protection under the law. Further, law enforcement actually has to comply with more standards when reading Miranda Rights to juveniles than they have to do with reading those same rights to adults.
- Law enforcement can record interrogations with juveniles. For certain offenses, the interview must be recorded if it is performed at a detention facility or police station.
- Juveniles have the right to trial. In most juvenile cases, juveniles have a trial in front of the judge. This is where the judge rules whether the juvenile is guilty or not. The burden of proof at these trials is still guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Conviction in a juvenile case can be brought up in future court proceedings. Although there are strict confidentiality requirements for juvenile cases, a conviction from juvenile court can be brought up in future court proceedings for impeachment or sentencing purposes.
- Incarceration is a possible sentence. Many mistakenly believe that juveniles cannot be sentenced to jail or prison due to their status as a minor. For most misdemeanor offenses, a sentence of up to 30 days in a detention facility is possible. For most felony offenses, a sentence of incarceration in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is possible.
- Juveniles can receive a trial within 30 days if detained. If being held in a detention facility, the juvenile has the right to a trial within 30 days from the date of which they were detained. Prosecutors have limitations on whether they can ask for a continuance.
- If this is the first arrest for a juvenile, the juvenile may be eligible for diversion. Some counties offer programs such as Teen Court. If the juvenile signs up for the program and follows the prescribed rules, the case might not even be filed in court.
Contact BRE Law for a Free Consultation
Although no outcome is certain, an experienced Decatur criminal attorney can help you navigate the difficult and often confusing realm of juvenile law. The BRE Law team is aware how stressful and scary criminal charges can be, and former Juvenile Prosecutor Nrupa Patel is here to help you and your minor navigate the criminal justice system. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation.